Circus Smirkus is a nonprofit arts and education organization based in Greensboro, Vermont. Our mission is to promote the skills, culture and traditions of the traveling circus, and to inspire youth to engage in life-changing adventures in the circus arts.
Since 1987, Circus Smirkus has been bringing the transforming power of the circus arts to people of all ages through three principal programs:
- Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour is the only tented traveling youth circus in the United States. Performing under traditional European-style circus tents, the award-winning circus company consists of some 80 people including teen performers, professional circus coaches, tent and technical crew and a live circus band performing an original score each year. The tour caravan requires 23 support vehicles and launches its Big Top in nearly 20 New England towns each summer, performing to approximately 42,000 patrons each year.
- Circus Smirkus Camp is for both people of all ages and skill levels (including adults) who want to learn the circus arts in a summer camp setting, under real circus tents set on our lush Greensboro campus.
- Circus Smirkus School Residencies offer K-12 students the opportunity to learn the circus arts in school or after-school programs throughout the school year.
Smirkus is the brain child of Founding Director Rob Mermin, who ran off to Europe to apprentice himself in circus life. It was there that he learned to pound stakes, put up the Big Top, work with animals and train with circus artists. Rob spent more than a decade performing as a clown in such circuses as Circus Hoffman in Great Britain, Circus Scott in Sweden, the Hungarian Magyar Cirkusz, and Cirkus Benneweis in Denmark. He studied mime with Marcel Marceau and taught mime, movement, and circus skills for many years in schools and colleges in the U.S. and abroad. Rob is an Artist-in-Residence in Vermont and a past Director of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.
Rob founded Smirkus on a 38 acre parcel nestled among the rolling hills of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. The property’s 150+ year old farm house is still a home away from home for eleven permanent year-round staff. And of course, Smirkus HQ also consists of the adjoining Circus Barn, the former horse stable and loft where it all started.